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The Book of Exodus

J Grant

Exodus is the grand book of redemption. It begins with the Children of Israel groaning under the whips of Egyptian taskmasters, and ends with them serving the Lord in the wilderness. It takes them from the house of bondage to the house of the Lord.

The People

The Children of Israel were, in the eyes of the world, an insignificant group with no future. They had no land of their own and, although they had increased greatly in numbers while in Egypt, they had become helpless slaves in bondage to the most powerful monarch of the age. Their position appeared to be hopeless.

The Plan

The shedding of blood was required for Israel to be redeemed. The blood in Egypt was that of a lamb; today it is "the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet 1.19).

The Purpose

The purpose of redemption is not only to release men from the bondage of sin. Exodus teaches that God's desire is to have worshippers who have a love of His presence. The tabernacle was built to make this possible for Israel. Today we do not approach a tabernacle or a temple, but we "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb 4.16). We approach "the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man" (8.2).

Redemption: CHAPTERS 1-18

Preparation (Chapters 1-4)

The scene is set in chapter 1. The increasing number of Hebrews caused Pharaoh anxiety, and he sought to control their number by:


Taskmasters were set over them to afflict them, and when that did not succeed he tried …

Death at Birth

He sought the help of the midwives to ensure the death of all male children, and when that did not succeed he tried …

Drowning in the River

Every son was to be cast into the Nile.

In chapter 2, the son was born who would lead God's people out of Egypt. Notice his deliverance from the Nile, his decision to associate himself with his people, and his departure after he tried to do God's work 40 years too early.

In chapters 3 and 4 the servant was called. In the backside of the desert Moses heard the call of God, but was reluctant to return to Egypt. It is a good sign when we realise our own weakness. Moses was concerned about his suitability (3.11), his integrity (3.13), his authority (4.1) and his ability (4.10).

Confrontation (Chapters 5-11)

Moses confronted Pharaoh with the demand that he let the Children of Israel go, and six signs were given to him to convince him to heed the voice of God. Pharaoh sought compromise, but he would not let the people go. He delayed a decision by one day (8.10); he asked them to sacrifice in the land of Egypt and not in the wilderness (8.25); he told them that they could go, but not very far away (8.28); he invited them to go, but to leave their children (10.11); and he offered to allow their departure if they would leave their flocks and herds behind (10.24). Moses refused all compromise.

Salvation (Chapters 12-14)

With the refusal of Pharaoh to let the slave nation go, the Passover was instituted, and salvation was effected by divine power alone. This was a new beginning for Israel, marked by it being "the beginning of months" to them (12.2). As Paul reminded Christians that "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us" (1 Cor 5.7), we have a picture in these chapters of the salvation which is offered to men and women today:

Salvation from Sin's Penalty

All the firstborn in Egypt died apart from the firstborn in the houses of the Israelites, because the blood of the Passover lamb had been placed on their lintels and doorposts. They owed their deliverance from death to the blood of the slain lamb.

Salvation from Sin's Power

The armies of Pharaoh drowned in the Red Sea, and their power was broken. At the cross, the power of the adversary was broken, and he no longer has power to dominate the lives of believers (Heb 2.14-15). If he does so, it is because we willingly return to obeying him, because he no longer has the power to enforce his will on us. It should be noted that the Israelites were separated from Egypt completely. Their hopes did not lie there, their future was not to be found there, and their interests were not to be pursued there. Let us heed that lesson today.

Education (Chapters 15–18)

Salvation is not the end of God's dealings with us; it is but the beginning. This education commenced in the Book of Exodus with praise, as the joyful song of chapter 15 was sung. There was no requirement for training to sing this song; the Children of Israel sang it spontaneously as they left Egypt, the land of their slavery, behind. Moses, who started and ended his wilderness journey with a song, was the conductor of their praise. What joy there is in the souls of those who are newly saved.

Praise, however, soon gave way to problems. They met water shortages and bitter water, they cried for the food of Egypt, and they met their first enemy, Amalek. In all this the grace of God was displayed towards them. Water was found at Elim, and later it came from the rock smitten by the rod of Moses. Manna was given to supply their food. They were learning that the God who delivered them from Egypt would continue to meet their needs. It should be noted that every problem they encountered taught them something new about God. The only occasion where there is no record of new revelation is when they encamped at Elim. A perfect location, one would have thought, and yet, because there were no problems, there was no fresh revelation! What lessons we can learn from this!

The glorious prospect which lies before the Jew is seen in chapter 18. The Gentile Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, rejoiced with Moses over all that the Lord had done in delivering Israel. One day Gentiles will rejoice in all that the Lord has done for Israel, and will desire the company of Jews as well as the righteous reign of their King.


The Separation of the People (Chapters 19-24)

In chapter 19 there is the prelude to the giving of the Law. The people stated that they would obey all that the Lord had said. There was confidence in their voice, with no echo of dependence on God. They were asking for a law to obey, and such a law was given. Since leaving Egypt they had been under grace, but now they were under law.

The precepts are given in chapters 20-23. With all the solemnity that surrounded Sinai, they received the Law; the demands of divine holiness to which sinful man can never attain by his own efforts. Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and 70 elders of Israel presented themselves before the Lord and, on their return, the people again declared that they would do all that the Lord had said (24.3).

The Sanctuary for the People (Chapters 25-40)

First there is waiting on the Lord, as Moses on the mount received the instructions for the building of the Tabernacle. Here we see God's desire to dwell with His people; a desire for a house where they could meet with Him. This is still His desire today; not for one house or earthly centre, but for local churches which bear the features of the house of God (1 Tim 3.15).

Sad to say, when Moses was on the mount, there was wilful rebellion against the Lord. An idol, a golden calf, was made. How far now the Children of Israel were from their proclaimed certainty of doing all that the Lord had said! Our claims are soon put to the test, and often are followed by failure.

At the end of the book there is working, as they build for the Lord. This people who had been engaged in building the treasure houses of the world are now building a house for the Lord. What are we building? Merely treasure houses for time, or are we engaged in building into the local assembly the features of the house of God? Rewards for the former may be enjoyed here for a season, but rewards for the latter will be enjoyed eternally.


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